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    Whole30 Challenge: Week Two

    One of my meals this week: Shrimp, fried egg, and string bean stir fry with Magic Mushroom Powder!
    One of my meals this week: Shrimp, fried egg, and string bean stir fry with Magic Mushroom Powder!

    I know I usually post on Sundays, but last night, I was caught in a eBay frenzy trying to win an auction for the very popular and highly reviewed Instant Pot.. haha (AND I WON! A total of $88 for a new, open box, IP-DUO-60 6QT.) And also, I started playing Destiny on PS4 last night (I know I’m super late to this) as a few of my coworkers recommended me to buy it and play with them. Soooo, I’m writing it today.

    Huzzah! I survived Memorial Day weekend and a super busy week at work. I was worried it would be tough, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Memorial day consisted of a baseball game (#letsgomets), a BBQ.. and a test of will power for dessert. The baseball game actually was probably the easiest challenge to overcome.. with preparation, of course. With high prices for food and drink at the ball game, it was easier for me to skip eating something simply because I’m not going to pay $10 for that funnel cake… even though it smells. so. good. #willpower #butactuallyjustfrugal I never looked into seeing if you could bring food into Citifield since I’d normally just buy a hot dog and fries there BUT YOU COULD! And also a sealed plastic bottle of water 20oz or less. I think many baseball stadiums have similar rules so definitely do your research before going. I brought 2 Applegate Natural Uncured Beef & Pork Hotdogs (wrapped in tin foil), carrots (plastic baggie), and an orange (peeled, pulled apart and in a plastic baggie) and a bottle of water. It lasted me throughout all 9 innings. BTW – NY Mets beat Chicago White Sox 1-0.

    The BBQ wasn’t too hard either. I ate salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil, a beef hamburger patty, grilled zucchini and sweet potato, grilled pineapple, and a bit of steak. Filling and delicious from the smokey flavor. I wish my George Foreman grill didn’t break on me recently or I would’ve been grilling so hard for Whole30. The hardest was probably dessert at the BBQ. I started craving ice cream when I saw a little kid eating soft serve out of a plastic Mets helmet at the game. And then my bf bought a Carvel ice cream cake, which is one of my favorite cakes of all time, for the BBQ. Uhghghghghh i love the crunchies. But I fought it and said NO. BAIIII.

    The rest of the week was pretty busy for me at work. I worked late most nights, only made it to yoga on Tuesday for a 75 minute session, and noticed I snacked a lot (maybe due to stress and tiredness). I even took a day trip to Boston (7AM flight in, 8PM flight out). Unfortunately, I had to be very consultant-y where I went to the airport, straight to the office, then back to the airport and didn’t get to explore/experience Boston at all. Thankfully, during my Whole30, I only had to travel for a day out. Food options where you travel to may not be ideal. Anyway, thanks to Google searches for Whole30 dining out options near the office and in the BOS airport, I was able to keep close to the Whole30 as I could. Plus, I packed a plastic baggie of cashews just incase I needed a pick-me up if I couldn’t find anything to eat.. which I did find stuff to eat and still ended up dipping my hands into the cashews bag. CASHEWS ARE SO ADDICTING.

    Again, this week, because I was a bit exhausted from work, I didn’t really feel any major benefits of the Whole30. But at least it sort of helped me refrain from going crazy and eating junk through my stress! I did start finding it easier to say no to unhealthy food right in front of me. I started to track all my meals/calories in myFitness pal app, even thought the Whole30 program says not to calorie count. I just did this so I would refrain from snacking and also had a better idea of the portion/balance of my meals. As I got busier with work, I didn’t have time/energy to do that… so I figured my goal again this week is to NOT snack in between meals – whether it be my beloved cashews or oranges. I will have fruit occasionally during meal time. Also, I’m hoping this week won’t be as busy and I can get back on my regular yoga grind. I got pretty “simple” with most of my meals this week. I just didn’t have the time or energy to make something awesome looking from my Whole30 approved Pinterest board.

    Here’s my meal round up for this past week (with pictures)! read more “Whole30 Challenge: Week Two”

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    Whole30 Challenge: Week One (Again)

    A few of my meals this week: Baked buffalo chicken wings!
    A few of my meals this week: Baked buffalo chicken wings!

    I’m not going to lie. This week was tough. Work was busy which left me less time to cook and even go to yoga. I only had time to yoga two 90-min sessions this week, ugh. At least I had some movement during my commute to the city (Manhattan to the rest of the boroughers, for those unfamiliar with the term). Good thing I did spend a few hours doing some food prep last Sunday or I would’ve been totally screwed this week! This week I learned that as long as I have some defrosted protein, some veggies, and fruit in the fridge- I should be good to whip up a fairly quick no frills meal. So this week, was pretty much that. Also – COCONUT AMINOS (Coconut Secret’s magical 8oz bottle only $4.79 at Jet.com)… I love you. I only received a bottle on Thursday (ordered Wednesday night with free regular shipping and it was literally delivered Thursday afternoon… bravo Jet!) but have been obsessed so far and have used it in most of my cooking since then.

    This week’s feels: Not much different from before that I can tell. I heard it does take awhile for the ‘possible benefits’ to start kicking in. Cravings are definitely increasing though. I also might be eating too much fruit. While I feel full from my meals, I’m usually hungry after a few hours. I know that it could be because I’m thirsty or just craving, without actually being hungry. I turned to fruit. A lot of fruit. Too much fruit. This week, my goal is to not immediately snack if I feel hungry outside meals. Try to drink a ton of water first then see how I feel. I also started Orange Is The New Black on Netflix last week (trying to finish season 3 — then let’s talk!!) and ever since I saw a donut in one of the episodes, I’ve been craving a donut. And donuts have never been on my craving list before. Hmph. And bubble tea. But I always crave that #asian. On the weekends, it SUCKS living in NYC and doing Whole30. I walk past so much good food that I can’t have. Oh well. Keep telling myself it is only for X more days… Anyway, I’m still happy that I completed my first week! I’ll try to get more strict about portion sizes, upping the veggie intake, and minimizing snacking this coming week. Memorial day bbq tomorrow doe……

    tinauhhh

    My meals this week after the jump. read more “Whole30 Challenge: Week One (Again)”

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    Whole30 Challenge: Week One

    One of my meals during this week: Turkey Burger & Guacomole with Sweet Potato Buns, Fries, and Broccoli
    One of my meals during this week: Turkey Burger & Guacamole with Sweet Potato Buns, Sweet Potato Fries, and Broccoli

    In December of 2015, I made a #chenchallenge to get healthier. That was not going on another diet that I would ultimately give up on after a week (if that), or spending countless hours at the gym until I get bored and stop going. It was a lifestyle change – changing the way I lived (including exercise) and the way I ate. I started trying to eat healthier during Sunday – Thursday with a general rule of thumb of no processed or added sugar foods and exercising a lot more often, whether that meant going to hot yoga sessions 4-5 times a week, making an effort to walk more or go bike riding/snowboarding when weather permitted. Then, I would totally pig out Friday night and Saturday meals. Um, probably not the best approach since my weekend calorie count was obnoxiously higher than the week and my body was probably like WTF but hey, I was at least eating clean ~80% of the time right?.. better than eating clean 0%. And I did lose about 20 pounds, considering my highest and lowest weight in the past few years (#consultinglife). But I eventually plateaued and wanted to try something else.. One of my cousins was doing the Whole30 challenge (http://whole30.com/new/). If you don’t know what it is, it’s pretty much a “nutritional reset” – 30 days of clean eating with a set of rules, eliminating certain body-impacting food groups from your diet so that once your 30 days are over and you start adding back certain foods, you can see how they affect your body. She told me I should try it out. So, after a bit of reading on the Internets of many happy stories (especially from one of my favorite food bloggers – Michelle Tam of NomNomPaleo), I took up the 30 day challenge.

    I started on Monday, May 16th and today would have marked the completion of my first week… buuuuut I’m going to be honest and keep myself accountable: I failed. I slipped up last night at a restaurant eating dinner with friends at Westville in Chelsea. Westville has healthier options and it’s actually pretty good (although, pricier than my normal dining budget). I had such a good time catching up with my friends that I didn’t even realize I ordered artichokes and asparagus with parmesan until it came to the table. I didn’t want to waste it so I tried to brush off as much parmesan as I could. I guess I could have taken drastic measures to try to clean it off with water but I had a #yolo moment and just ate it. Do I regret it? Not really. Thanks to the pep talk from the Whole30/9 Team. I know I could just continue on but eh, I want to fully commit to the challenge so I restarted today with a target completion date of Tuesday, June 21st. But regardless, I’ll still share how my first week went and what I ate. read more “Whole30 Challenge: Week One”

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    Washington D.C., USA (April 2016)

    The White House
    The White House

    8096063_friendly-reminder-that-in-an-alternate-universe_tb3161512

    I’ve been watching the latest season of House of Cards (just finished, actually… oh.my.g) and actually a bit of this 2016 presidential election. So it was a perfect time to go to Washington! (TBH, just needed a mini-vacation, and DC is a good weekend getaway from NYC.) I’ve always been intrigued about government, politics, and general US history and thankfully my travel partner (aka the bf) is a history teacher and used to work in politics… so it was definitely an interesting and educational trip.

    I didn’t do as much planning as I normally would’ve. I just knew we were going to hang out around the White House / National Mall area, since we were only going to be there for a short weekend (literally Saturday and a bit of Sunday). It worked out perfectly, as it left a bit of spontaneity and a more relaxed atmosphere. There were certain things I did need to prepare in advance, as tickets/reservations were or were likely needed, such as requesting White House Tour and U.S. Capitol Tour tickets, but if you don’t care too much about those attractions (full list here), you’ll still have a great time as there are many DC attractions not requiring tickets or advanced planning.

    When you’re booking accommodations for a short trip, stay downtown or near the National Mall. I was really hesitant to follow this advice in the beginning, as the hotel or Air B&B prices were higher than what I was comfortable paying, but after having stayed a block away from the White House, it was totally worth every penny for the amazing location to be able to walk everywhere (granted, I did score a decent deal on Hotwire; more on this later). If you’re staying for more than a few days, then it might make more sense to stay out of downtown and commute in. But you do not want to deal with parking, traffic, etc. if you’re just there for a short time. Suck it up, pay, and enjoy… you’re on vacation, after all. DC is also beautiful and on nice days, you’ll want to walk everywhere. And because you’ll walk everywhere, bring comfortable shoes.

    Here’s a short list of what I did:

    Day 0 – Friday

    • Parked car at nearby garage ($40 for whole weekend through SpotHero app)
    • Checked into the W Washington DC hotel
    • SLEEEEEEEEEP

    Day 1 – Saturday

    • Breakfast at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
    • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    • White House Tour (*Tickets Required*)
    • US Capitol Tour (*Tickets Recommended*)
    • Library of Congress
    • Walking along the National Mall
    • Dinner at &pizza (we didn’t have time to eat lunch)
    • National Portrait Gallery
    • Washington Monument

    Day 2 – Sunday

    • Breakfast at Founding Farmers
    • Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
    • Lincoln Memorial
    • Korean War Veterans Memorial
    • DC War Memorial
    • Tidal Basin
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
    • Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial
    • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
    • National Museum of American History
    • National Air and Space Museum
    • Check out of W Hotel and drove towards home
    • Stopped in Baltimore to eat crabs at L.P. Steamers

    read more “Washington D.C., USA (April 2016)”

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    Strawberry Green Tea Layer Cake

    The finished product!
    The finished product! Green tea layer cake inside… I promise.

    As mother’s day is coming up next week, my two friends and I were talking about what we’re getting our moms. As we’re all 20-somethings now, we’ve been encountering the difficulty of getting gifts for our parents for various occasions. What do we get someone that has everything and could buy it themselves?? No more cutesy finger painted hands on paper gifts appropriate from a 5 year old. Now we care about practicality and not buying something totally useless that will collect dust. Is it a visit back to the parents home enough? What about those overly expensive Edible Arrangements baskets? Flower delivery? Something they love like cooking utensils? But then if they loved it, they would already have it. With at least 3 possible gift-giving holidays a year for someone (mother’s/father’s day, birthday, christmas), what can a gal do?!

    I’m still trying to figure this out. I normally would treat them to a nice dinner for their birthday, but this year, for my mom’s birthday, I baked her a cake. The asian palette typically does not like overly sweet, including my mom. Unfortunately, many bakeries evidently pack on that sugar; so, instead of buying a cake, I decided to make one! read more “Strawberry Green Tea Layer Cake”

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    Cauliflower Salmon Sushi Roll

    Healthy and delicious spin on one of my favorite foods
    Healthy and delicious spin on one of my favorite foods – salmon roll

    I am obsessed with sushi. Always have been since it was introduced into my life when I was a child. Unfortunately, most sushi rolls at restaurants are deceptively pretty unhealthy with it’s made with sugary rice vinegar, a heaping amount of white rice, and any additional deep-frying, spicy mayo lathering, or eel sauce drizzle (is anyone salivating besides me right now?!). Fortunately, there’s the replacing rice with cauliflower option at home, which can save you a bunch of calories and carbs when you’re trying to eat healthier. read more “Cauliflower Salmon Sushi Roll”

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    Baked Ziti and Chicken Parmesan

    Chicky chicky parm parm
    Healthier version of chicky chicky parm parm

    Tried this healthier cheesy pasta recipe last night: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=351984

    I followed the recipe pretty closely. It turned out decent, although not as cheesy normally as baked ziti is. I opted to mix in the marinara sauce with the pasta instead of having it layered on. Next time I would try to do the same thing with the layer of Parmesan cheese so it’s more cheesy within, instead of having it sit as one layer below the chicken. Then probably add a little more sauce on top of the chicken. But still pretty good for a “healthier” night in.

    Bon appetit!

    xoxo eileen

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    Los Angeles, California USA (August 2015)

    Santa Monica Beach
    Santa Monica Beach

    I’ve lived in New York all my life and I didn’t think I would be able to live anywhere else. Until I visited LA. Well, I still prefer NYC > LA, buuuuuut if I ever had to leave NYC, I would head to LA fer sure. Mainly because there is beach, weather is mostly awesome, food is so delicious, AYCE KBBQ is like $15, and I would try to attend all the show tapings. The traffic is meh but so is NYC’s. What was interesting is that I’m usually a typical Noo Yawker in sense of being very fast-paced, efficient, on-a-schedule, and everything is urgent and at first, the lax culture in LA really made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like the pace at all. But after a few days, I loved the chill, beachy vibes.. I could get used to this!

    We spent a total of 5 days in LA. LA is huge and you WILL need to drive everywhere, unless you plan on spending a lot of money on Ubers. Parking is pretty cheap compared to NYC though. We could have crammed everything we wanted to do in maybe 3 days, but I’m glad we took the time to enjoy each point. PLUS, I had way too much food I wanted to try. I’ll do this post a little differently than my SF one, but will of course still give a run down of what we did. I split the trip into East LA and West LA.

    Super long post, but here’s a quick run down:

    Day 1 (Arrival from PCH drive ~1:30PM) – East LA

    Day 2 – East LA

    Day 3 – East LA

    Day 4 – West LA

    • Lunch at Golden Deli (Vietnamese)
    • Stroll Little Tokyo Shopping Center
    • Stroll Old Chinatown
    • Eat dinner at Sushi Show (AYCE Sushi… As a sushi lover, BEST AYCE sushi place I ever encountered)

    Day 5 – East LA

    • Breakfast at 85°C Bakery
    • Griffith Observatory
    • Drive through Beverly Hills
      • Rodeo Drive
      • Niiiiiice, very expensive houses
    • Lunch at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle (Ramen) (yes, again! so good)
    • Stroll through Hollywood Blvd
      • Walk of Fame
      • TCL Chinese Theatre
    • Dessert at Blockheads Shavery (Shaved Ice Cream) (yes, again!)
    • Santa Monica Beach (Last stroll before airport)
    • Return rental car at LAX

    read more “Los Angeles, California USA (August 2015)”

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    Pacific Coast Highway, California USA (August 2015)

    Amazing views only along the PCH Highway 1.
    Amazing views only along the PCH Highway 1.

    The PCH drive was like living through a series of those Sample Pictures that comes with Window builds. Incredibly scenic and breath-taking views.

    We rented a car in San Francisco and went south for Los Angeles (and kept the car throughout our LA trip and returned it at LAX). We split up the trip into 2 days (moreso, 1.5 days) and definitely could’ve sprung for extra stops along the route. We worried that it was going to be really cloudy (and it was for the beginning, but even with cloud, the experience was filled with incredible sights. I thought sitting in a car for 8 hours was going to be boring, but it’s not at all. From one amazing sight to the next, I was always in awe and excited. I’ll post which major stops I made, but my main takeaway would be – TAKE YOUR TIME. Do not rush through the drive. Stop often (in safe areas, of course) and take a moment to breathe it all in. Oh, and bring snacks and drinks for the ride. read more “Pacific Coast Highway, California USA (August 2015)”

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    Turkey Burger with Cauliflower Buns

    cauliflowerturkeyburger
    This ain’t no In N Out, but it won’t clog your arteries!

    DAMN I LOVE CARBS. But during the week, I try not to eat processed foods or complex carbohydrates. I limit my intake of simple carbohydrates (because you still need them but not too much), so any type of whole-grain bread, pasta, or brown rice is a no no for me during the week. This recipe for the cauliflower buns is something I recently discovered, and have been serving my taste buds verrrrrry well. read more “Turkey Burger with Cauliflower Buns”